What to do if your teenager is being bullied

Mother and daughter talking in kitchen

If your teenager is experiencing bullying, it’s important to stay calm and let them know it’s not their fault. Let them know that you’re there for them and will do anything you can to help them. By talking with your child openly, you can find out more about what’s going on and help your child understand the kinds of things that will help them cope and respond.

What can you do?

It can be difficult to know what to do or where to start when your child is being bullied. Below are some ways that you can work with your child to help them cope with the bullying they are experiencing:

  • Have an open conversation. Discuss the way it has made your child feel and react. This will help them to label their own emotions and assist with building self-awareness. Talking about it will help them process the emotion.

  • Make an action plan with your teen if they are experiencing bullying. What friend can they turn to? What teacher do they trust? If bullying occurs, will they respond or not? Break the action plan into manageable steps and play out possible scenarios.

  • Get informed about the ways to stop bullying. We don’t put up with bullying at work, and our teenagers shouldn’t have to put up with it at school or online. Schools have anti-bullying policies and are required to respond to bullying incidents.

  • Get a copy of the schools anti-bullying policy, then contact the school principal or year adviser and ask them about the policy and how they are going to follow it in this instance.

  • Read up on how to contact social media providers to address cyberbullying and ensure you and your child know how to block, delete or report anyone who is upsetting them online. Social media providers are required to remove offensive content or you can contact The E-Safety Commissioner. See more about responding to cyberbullying here.

  • Think about contacting the other child's parents and address the issue between families.

Learning the signs of bullying and how to handle bullying helps your child develop some essential conflict resolution skills. However, in some circumstances it just isn’t safe for your teenager to handle it on their own. If that’s the case, and the bullying is serious or has been going on for a while, involve their school, other parents or authorities if it’s appropriate.